Native Orchid News:
The Newsletter of Native Orchid Conservation Inc.
Vol. 4 Issue 3   April 2002
ISSN 1499-5476

Native Orchid Conservation Inc.
35 St.Michael Rd, Winnipeg,MB R2M2K7
For more information on NOCI, contact Bud Ewacha at 253-4741 or email

Board Meetings:
First Wednesday every month (except July & August) 7:30pm at Powerland 170 Marion St

Rare Plant of the Month:
Yellow Lady's-Slipper (Cypripedium calceolus)


Annual General Meeting

On April 10th we held our Annual General Meeting. At that time elections to the board took place and the results were as follows:
Doris Ames, Bud Ewacha, Eugene Reimer, and Alice Warren were elected to the board of directors by acclamation for a two year term. Subsequently the board elected them by acclamation to the executive for a one year term as follows:

Bud Ewacha President
Doris Ames Vice President
Alice Warren Secretary
Eugene Reimer   Treasurer

Thanks to all the board members for agreeing to carry on. Most of them have been doing the work since the beginning. We are lucky to have the continuing help of these busy and talented people.They have been doing a terrific job and NOCI owes its continuing success to them. Board members have to work hard and take responsibility but it can be very rewarding to see our conservation goals being met. I'm sure we would all rather be "out in the field" but there is much administrative work to do with running an active organization of this kind. If any of you have a few hours to spare, please respond when we ask for volunteers at displays etc. P.S. We are still looking for a volunteer coordinator. Phone Bud, if you can help.

Heather Gill-Robinson gave an interesting talk on her work with the mummified remains of ancient people found in European bogs. She showed us slides showing some of the beautiful sacrificial offerings made by the Celts and other ancient tribes that were thrown into the bogs thousands of years ago. The bodies themselves and the computerized reconstruction of their faces was marvellous. The high acidity preserved some of them extremely well but not others. Heather is studying them to find out the reason for these differences, while pursuing her PhD at the University of Manitoba. Thank you Heather for a rare glimpse at your unusual line of work.

Raffle Draw

The raffle draw was held on April 10, 2002 and the winners were as follows:

#1 Fishing Trip - donated by Peterson's Reed Lake Lodge ticket#1839 Jason Nazar
#2 Bird Bath - donated by R.Paul Greenhouse ticket#2113 M. Clancy
#3 Orchids of Minnesota book - donated by Bud Ewacha ticket#011 Walter Slobozian
#4 Floral Arrangement - donated by Top Hat Florists ticket#239 Doris Waselka
#5 Phalaenopsis Orchid plant - donated by E. Maza ticket#1630 Marc Lynch
#6 Bottle of Perfume - donated by A.Ewacha ticket#2337 Dennis Coly
#7 Meal Certificate - donated by Pine Ridge Hollow Restaurant ticket#1901 Peggy Bainard Acheson
#8 Water Wand - donated by A.J.Lacoste Greenhouse ticket#3278 Debbie Dew
#9 Gift Certificate - donated by St.Marys Nursery ticket#2230 Tracy Houston

Thanks very much to all the people who bought and sold tickets and especially to our generous sponsors. Special thanks to Bud Ewacha and Bob Joyce, who ran this lottery. They did a terrific job and approximately $2,700.00 was raised, to help us with our conservation work.

New project aims to establish C. acaule (Moccasin Flower) populations

Establishment of new populations of orchids may be desirable for many reasons, including the utilization of already-protected lands as orchid habitat, an insurance against destruction of existing populations and to escape disease pressures in existing sites. There is little other than anecdotal information on the ability of northern terrestrial orchids to establish when seeded into suitable habitat.

In the summer of 2001, Bud Ewacha, Carla Zelmer and Tony Szumigalski began a scientific study to determine the feasibility of seeding C. acaule into an area of appropriate habitat that does not presently support C. acaule plants. (Cat Hills MB). This seeding project has been funded by several sources including the Federal and Provincial Governments.

To aid in tracking the seedlings, an unusual darkly coloured variant of C. acaule was used as the seed source for this study. This plant was hand pollinated with its own pollen, resulting in large capsules containing thousands of viable seeds.

Split plots were set up in replicate at the site and marked for relocation over many growing seasons. Half of each split plot was planted with a known weight of C. acaule mixed with sand (to help distribute the tiny seeds). Only the sand was added to the other half as a check for existing seedlings.

The sites will be monitored for the next five years for the appearance of seedlings. For the first to several years of a northern terrestrial orchid's life, the seedlings live underground, provided with food by a symbiotic relationship with fungi. Eventually a leaf is produced above ground, and the plants begin to photosynthesize. Monitoring seedling emergence is therefore a long term proposition. Little is known about the time to emergence in suitable wild habitats because date of seeding is usually not known.

Although the site appears to be favourable for C. acaule growth at this new site, the presence of the symbiotic fungi is not assured. To our knowledge, this study is the first of its kind with C. acaule, which can be germinated in culture but rarely survives planting out in the natural environment. Correspondence with researchers in the USA and Europe indicate that there is interest in undertaking similar studies in several countries.

(Extracted from a report by Carla Zelmer, March 2002)

FIELD TRIPS - click here for the 2002 Fieldtrip schedule

Rare Plant of the Month (see cover photo)

Yellow Lady's-Slipper (Cypripedium calceolus)

The name comes from the Greek "Cypris" the goddess of love and beauty and "pedilon" slipper; "calceolus" means little shoe, referring to the lip.

The Yellow Lady's-Slipper complex is considered by many to consist of three main varieties: the Large Yellow Lady's-Slipper, the Small Yellow Lady's-Slipper and the Flat-Petaled Lady's-Slipper.

The Large Yellow Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium calceolus var. pubescens) is perhaps the most common. "pubescens" comes from Latin meaning downy and refers to the very fine hairs covering the entire plant. This showy plant is 18 to 24" high and has 3-6 ovate, broadly-veined leaves. There is one and often two waxy, yellow flowers in June or July. The sepals are usually twisted and either brownish or greenish-yellow. The inflated yellow lip is over 1¼" long and often streaked or spotted on the inside. The shallow roots are thick and grow horizontally along the ground. Plant grows singly or in clumps.

The Small Yellow Lady's-Slipper (Cypripedium calceolus var.parviflorum) grows in large clumps and blooms in May and June. The variety name comes from Latin "parvis" meaning small and "flos" meaning flower. This little plant is usually 8-15" high. The small yellow flower has a lip no more than 1¼" long and twisted dark sepals. Some plants are very fragrant.

The Flat-Petaled Lady's-Slipper (Cypripedium calceolus planipetalum)- derives its name from the Latin "planus" flat and "petalum" referring to its flat untwisted petals. All the yellow lady's-slippers start out with flat pointy petals but then they twist up. The petals on this variety don't twist, they stay flat and are blunt. The lip is greenish-yellow, narrow, and slightly pointed. The plant is large, 1½ to 2 feet tall and blooms in June and July. This variety is fairly common in Newfoundland but very rare here.

As well as the three varieties listed above, there are hybrids, as both the Small and the Large YellowLady's-Slipper cross with the Small White Lady's Slipper producing some strange and lovely flowers and the different Yellows also cross with each other.

Seedpods are large and brown and remain all winter, with leaves often still persisting on the stems. The Large Yellow Lady's-Slipper often has a bit of the old dried flower clinging to the pod. Bees are believed to be the pollinators.

Clumps of Yellow Lady's-Slippers can be found growing everywhere; on the edges of bogs, in the ditches alongside the highways, in meadows and along railway tracks. Everywhere, in fact, where their fine seeds can get a toehold in disturbed ground. Some of these clumps are more than 50 years old. Lady's-Slippers take a long time to mature in the wild, sometimes 12-15 years before they flower. They prefer clayey soil with a neutral pH. Unfortunately, because they are so easy to spot, some people like to dig them up and transplant them into their gardens. However, although they seem to do very well at first, if the fungi that support them do not survive the vast majority will fail within 5 years. Even if they do survive you are removing another plant from the breeding population. Many people do not realize that lady's-slippers cannot stand to have their roots cut or broken. This will always kill them. Picking them is not a good idea either because as well as preventing seedpod production you are removing leaves with the flower. The plant needs these leaves to perform photosynthesis and manufacture its food.

For these reasons, the sale of orchids dug from the wild should be strictly prohibited. If you want to grow these plants, lab propagated specimens can be ordered from nurseries in Canada. They will sell you mature plants of many species. Please see Where to Purchase Native Plants on this website for the addresses of reputable greenhouses.

Editor's note: If you have any comments about anything in this newsletter or suggestions for further articles, please contact Doris Ames, 117 Morier Avenue, Winnipeg MB R2M0C8, or phone 231-1160, or e-mail <>